Friends, Lost and Found
The perky one has pictures for me. She took them last week, at the big soccer match. Some are of my daughter and she thought I'd like to have them. It is a kind gesture. It occurs to me that this woman probably has a name, and I should learn it. Why have I closed myself off to her -- and to so many others? I wonder if I wear a shield that says: No New Friends, as a way of protecting my connection to The Babes. Friends for life! Nothing will come between us!
But of course something will come between us, and something has. Does that necessarily threaten the truth of our connection? We are friends for life, and as our lives change, maybe it's okay for us to make room for new kinds of friendships, too.
"Thank you for the pictures," I say to the perky one, wishing I knew her name and wondering how I might quietly find out. "That was really kind of you."
My phone rings. It's BK. "Excuse me one second," I say, and take the call.
"I'm sorry to bother you," BK says. "But I've got Nancy and Beth on the line -- "
"You're doing a conference call without me?"
"Not really," she says. "We all just decided that since I'm researching nursing homes for my mom, I should try to find a place where we can all end up. Don't you think that's a great idea?" She gives me the image of all us Babes in our rocking chairs, finally having time to really catch up. "And you can teach us all how to knit."
"That sounds glorious," I say. "You think it's pathetic for us to be looking forward to being old ladies in nursing homes?"
She laughs, hangs up. I see that the perky one is looking at me, having overheard bits of this odd conversation.
"A dear old friend," I say. "A bunch of us have been trying to figure out how to find time to get together."
"Oh, I have the same problem," the perky one says.
"It's terrible," she says. "I miss them all so much it keeps me up at night."
We sit in silence a while, watching our girls kick and spin and laugh in the afternoon sun.
"I'm sorry," I say. "What is your name?"
"Jennifer," she says. "It's nice to finally meet you. Would you like to take the kids for ice cream after this?"
I tell her I'd be delighted to.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, September 2007.